Snake Gulch Rock Art
This trail is near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Kaibab Forest in the Kanab Wilderness Area.
A step back into history surrounds hikers with an amazing array of writings, etchings and structures left behind by ancient Native American inhabitants who once thrived in this canyon tributary of Kanab Creek. The paintings and other remnants date back as far as 500 BC, yet are amazingly well preserved considering the relatively exposed location, not just to the elements of weather, but also to modern human interference. At one time prior to the canyons wilderness designation there was a road that accessed Snake Gulch, but now only hikers and equestrians frequent this spiritual experience. Other than cattle grazing, nothing indicates this areas frequent use except the path alongside the wash. It's obvious that wilderness designation has helped keep Snake Gulch from the desecration that affects other less controlled archaeological sites. Hundreds of pictographs, some petroglyphs and several ruins and granaries are found along the low walls on this 20 mile round trip. Hiking is very easy with the lack of any significant elevation gain or loss. It is imperative that travel is maintained on existing trails. Some of the trails are faint to the sites, but creating new trails to panels and remnants will only speed up the destruction of the fragile cliff bands that are home to these sacred artworks. Do not leave behind any evidence by leaving trash or footprints. Do not touch any of the structures or paintings as the oils from human skin will only speed up the erosion and destruction of these primitive landmarks. Also do not make a fire in this area since smoke does damage them.
Snake Gulch at a Glance
Trailhead - To get to the Snake Gulch Trailhead drive one-mile south of Fredonia, Arizona on Highway 89A. Look for FS 22 on the right side near a building and turn right on the paved road. Follow the mostly paved road for 21 miles where another road comes in on the left. Continue on the now dirt road FS 22 for another 1.5 miles and locate FS 423 on the right, then turn right. Follow 423 for 1.3 miles and turn right onto FS 642 and follow this road for 2.6 miles to the parking lot and trailhead for Snake Gulch. Be sure to register at the trailhead.
Route - Begin hiking on the well used trail to the north and soon the path will turn west, opening up the view of what the remainder of the route will be. We recommend getting an early start and pushing hard until you have reached the end of either our route description or to where you feel you can make it back to your vehicle safely before dark. The lighting in the morning is not as conducive to nice photography, but if you wait too long it will be getting dark on you on your hike back.
A half-mile into the trail you will pass a gate. After a couple of miles pictographs visible along the path will lure you for picture taking. If the 9.5 miles to Wildband Spring can be completed in 3-4 hours, then on the return trip the sun should be ideal for capturing the pictographs for photography on the northern wall. Keep in mind that the pictographs and petroglyphs are the target for this hike and by no means do you need to do a 20 mile round trip.
The section between Table Rock Spring and Pigeon Canyon yields very few archaeological remnants, however downstream, just past Pigeon Canyon on the north side there are two alcoves, up high, that you will find of interest. Tread lightly there as pottery chards, corn cobs and chips lay amongst the battled ruin walls. Unless it gets moved there should be a galvanized tub full of water at Wildband Spring .
On our quick 20 mile jaunt, we found most of the granaries and pictographs on the north side of Snake Gulch to the east of Table Rock. There are also several panels on the south side of the wash. A large panel of petroglyphs and a few pictographs was found several miles east of table rock. There is a panel beneath an alcove that was quite different from the rest, having several petroglyphs, and should be one of the first you spot on your hike in or last on your hike out.
GPS Coordinates WGS84 Datum
Grand Canyon North Rim, Arizona
History of the Thunderbird
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